Football is in the air; in the conversation bubbles among Qatar residents. Not for nothing; but Qatar is hosting AFC Asian Cup from 7-29 January 2011. 16 teams divided into 4 groups participated in this cup.
Rodent and Color Attacks
Never did I see rodents invade Doha in such presence. They are everywhere even on the road, on the roundabout, near stadium. In here these rodents are called Sabooq. In English, they are called Jerboa. You may see these roaming Jerboa on the street present in various colors: green, purple, pink, blue and yellow. Colorful rodent?
They are in fact the mascots of AFC Asian Cup: Zkriti (Green), Tranaa (purple), Freha (pink), Saboog (blue), and Tmbki (yellow). Their names are derived from name of places in Qatar.
Color is the asian cup theme. All stadiums used for the match is assigned a unique color and big sticker in color associated with stadium are pasted on the road where it is leading to the stadium. The message is simple follow your color.
…but the football madness is not there (yet)
The ticket prices are considered very cheap, where the cheapest is 5QR (children) to 15QR (adult, category 3) . Though you can still see many seat sections are empty yet online ticket booking shows many matches are fully booked. What happened? Among other is because many corporation books a large number of ticket, committee also reserves many more for free distributions. People receive free tickets for the shake of I have it. But when it comes to come to stadium and sit to watch, then there is another issue.
For matches before final, AFC Asian Cup Committee has been in coordination with expat communities here for free ticket distribution. There is a gentle agreement that committee is committed to give Indonesian hundreds of tickets for agreed matches. The second match sfor example saw 850 free tickets + 250 additional ticket at the last minutes given to Indonesian. All done in just few hours. Then I sat on Category 3 seat (behind goal post) in China vs Kuwait match in Al Gharafa Stadium and I saw myself drowning with many other Indonesian. Many came with family and kids.
Unfortunately Committee then made u-turn decision. They stopped giving free tickets because they were disappointed with other community who were given thousands of tickets but only a few shown up. Why are we impacted? asked our reps. Indonesian fans thought that it was wrong to give a large number of free tickets to community whose football is not the country’s most favorite sports list and who doesn’t have football madness to make the cup colorful event.
We can only hope that committee change their mind. Finger crossed.
The fact that Qatar is a country which its citizens are less than 19% of total populations, and major expatriate communities here are not known for their football madness also contribute to less uproarious thundering football atmosphere. May be it is not there yet. But it will.
Nevertheless, I had watched one match, got free ticket from Qatargas to watch Korea vs Bahrain, and had bought ticket for a big match: Korea vs Australia.
Who will grab the champion title? Interesting to see. So far Saudi, Iran, Japan and Korea are the most successful nations in AFC Asian Cup.